Never in our history have so many enjoyed such a wonderful quality of life. We are better fed, better educated, much more travelled and so much better informed. This should be a golden age with so many opportunities to make the long term of life on earth not only sustainable but more magical and wonderful. Unfortunately, our short term thinking & behaviours are putting in jeopardy the future of life on earth.
I have been thinking about why our behaviour is so reckless and as a result passing on to the next generation a world in much more trouble making survival for all living creatures much more difficult, if not impossible.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has been doing a lot of work on the degree of biodiversity loss we’re facing. They have been researching the rapid loss of species we are seeing today which is estimated by experts to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate.
The work that has been carried out by the experts have calculated that between 0.01 and 0.1 percent of all species will become extinct each year. If the low estimate of 2 million different species on the planet is true, then that means between 200 and 2,000 extinctions occur every year.
But if the upper estimate of species numbers is true and there are around 100 million different species co-existing with us on our planet - then between 10,000 and 100,000 species are becoming extinct each year.
Today we are in what is often referred to as the 6th extinction crisis, after the 5 known extinction waves in geological history. So, without arguing about who’s right or wrong or what the exact numbers are there can be little debate that there is, in fact, a very serious biodiversity crisis.
We can dodge and weave as much as we like but there is compelling evidence that humankind is by far and away the key culprit when it comes to the destruction that is taking place all around us. Most of our leaders, in particular our political leaders, have buried their heads in the sand and failed all living creatures on the planet.
My son is a marine biologist and he has been educating me on the scale of the destruction of the oceans that has taken place over recent years. One of the most damaging aspects of ocean pollution has been plastics.
In just over 100 years since the birth of plastics we have in many cases replaced traditional materials, such as wood, stone, horn and bone, leather, metal, glass, and ceramic with plastic. We have witnessed the end of the association of products with natural materials.
Presently every year, 8 million metric tons of plastics enter our ocean on top of the estimated 150 million metric tons that currently circulate in our marine environments. We are ingesting plastic in the sea food we are eating. It is not too late and according to Ocean Conservancy the tide of plastics entering the ocean can be reversed.
Finally, many more people today are dying of lung disorders due to the plastic we are inhaling. In total each week we on average ingest around 5 grams of plastic. This is equal to the weight of a credit card.
Time for change perhaps?
- Gordon is the former president and chief executive of BMMI. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org